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Upholding The Truth And Creating Real Impact With Miyoko Schinner

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Numerous corporations are currently in control of the world’s food production and distribution. Unfortunately, a lot of them are more concerned with raking in huge profits than making a real impact, leaving many people sick, hungry, and underserved. Award-winning chef, author, and entrepreneur Miyoko Schinner is actively working on making a huge difference in this space through her company, Miyoko’s Creamery. She joins Corinna Bellizzi to share how she courageously and loudly talks about the harsh truth on big shots bringing more harm than good to the food system and animal agriculture. Miyoko also explores her own efforts in achieving food sovereignty and prioritizing impact more than mere numbers. Tune in as she describes how she is making vegan cheese accessible to every household and her plans to create the world’s first vegan village in Italy.

About Miyoko Schinner

Care More Be Better | Miyoko Schinner | Real Impact

Miyoko Schinner is an award-winning chef, author, entrepreneur and speaker. She founded Miyoko’s Creamery (which she started at the “young” age of 57), and is often credited for bringing vegan cheese to mainstream audiences. She also founded Rancho Compasión, a farmed animal sanctuary and education center for school-age youth.  Miyoko is the author of six cookbooks, including the bestselling The Homemade Vegan Pantry, and the book credited for launching the vegan cheese revolution, Artisan Vegan Cheese. She is currently under contract with Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House on a 7 th book, The Vegan Creamery. She co-hosted a vegan cooking show on PBS called Vegan Mashup that aired for three seasons. She currently hosts a new YouTube cooking channel called The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko, and was featured in a 4-part Netflix series, You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment. Calling herself an epicurean activist, she has worked tirelessly for over thirty years to reimagine a food system built on sustainability, equity, and compassion for animals. Her popular cookbooks, products, and thought leadership have inspired people across the globe to reconsider their food choices and take personal joy and responsibility in helping to participate in a better food system. Miyoko has spoken all over the world in far-flung places as Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Korea, as well as home in the US at Google, Dropbox, The Smithsonian, WBUR, KQED, The San Francisco Library, and many others. She is regularly featured on podcasts and interviews. Miyoko has been recognized by major media outlets as a cultural icon and food innovator, and was named to the coveted inaugural list of Forbes 50 Over 50 in 2021 as well as a “Game Changer” by Food and Wine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Food and Wine, Bloomberg, Washington Post, The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and many other media outlets. Miyoko has three grown children and resides in West Marin with her dogs, cats, and close to 100 other animals.

Guest Social: https://www.instagram.com/miyokoschinner

Guest Website: https://www.ranchocompasion.org/

https://www.facebook.com/miyokoschinner

https://www.youtube.com/@thevegangoodlifewithmiyoko

Show Notes:

00:00 – Introduction

04:27 – Speaking The Truth

09:46 – Activism

12:48 – Taking Accountability

17 :14– Miyoko’s Creamery

27:47 – Commoditizing Food

30:35 – Tattoo

31:44 – Upcoming Book And Vegan Village

37:35 – Abandoning Fear

40:00 – Favorite Cheese

41:57 – Veganism

46:18 – Closing Words

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Upholding The Truth And Creating Real Impact With Miyoko Schinner

Introduction

I’m thrilled to introduce you all to an incredible woman who has been named a Forbes 50 over 50 and Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Female Founders, a Food and Wine Magazine’s Game Changer, a UN Women’s Vegan Revolutionary. I’m talking about none other than Miyoko Schinner. She is an Award-Winning Chef, Author, Entrepreneur, and Speaker who founded Miyoko’s Creamery, which she started at the young age of 57 and is often credited for bringing vegan cheese to mainstream audiences.

She also founded Rancho Compasión, a farmer, animal sanctuary, and education center for school-aged youth. Miyoko is the author of six cookbooks, including the bestsellers, The Homemade Vegan Pantry, and the book credited for launching a vegan cheese revolution, Artisan Vegan Cheese. She is under contract with Ten Speed Press’ Penguin Random House on a seventh book, The Vegan Creamery. Miyoko co-hosted a vegan cooking show on PBS called The Vegan Mashup that aired for three full seasons and hosts a new YouTube cooking channel called The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko.

She has been featured in the show in all sorts of media and was even in a four-part Netflix series that we talked about when we connected with Chef Babette. That series was called You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment. Calling herself an Epicurean Activist, she has worked tirelessly for many years to reimagine a food system built on sustainability, equity, and compassion for animals. She has three grown children and resides in West Marin in Northern California with her dogs, cats, and close to 100 other animals. Miyoko, welcome to the show.

It’s nice to be here.

I have to say, as we get started, I wanted to reflect for a moment on the first time that I saw you speak in person and got the chance to meet you. That was at Expo West. In fact, I’m leaving for the show. You delivered a keynote address, but then you were also on a panel of executives. Some of them were from the dairy industry, and you held their feet to the fire. I wanted to thank you for doing that because it’s not easy to go up against the Danons of the world, speak the truth, and hold them accountable for the treatment of animals. It can feel like an unpopular thing to do at times.

It is the unpopular thing to do, but I’m a rabble-rouser. I’ve learned. Part of it comes with age because I only have so many decades left in my life. I’m in my mid-60s and if I can’t speak the truth now, when will I ever speak the truth? I put myself out there. As a lot of women get older, they’re done with the BS and they begin to become more of who they truly are.

Speaking The Truth

As I reflect on this, I find myself personally, I’m more willing and able to also speak the truth to media and people and not willing to gloss over some of those things that would be dismissed in the past, like, “I’m not going to stand up and say something.” I appreciate you so much for being willing to be that voice for so many people who may not be able or willing to do that quite yet.

It’s difficult still, especially on certain platforms, and knowing that the so-called powers that be are not going to like what you say. There is a narrative that everyone abides by, which is how you behave in a society. You talk theoretically about things like social justice, discrimination, and racism. Heaven forbid that you voice it or show a real live example of it because it comes out of theory and into reality. The next thing you know, people are offended.

The fact is, how can we fight for social justice if we don’t show real examples? In our own industry, it’s one thing to talk about during the Me Too movement. Everybody got riled up and there were women that were coming forward. For many years, they didn’t want to come forward. The same thing with Black Lives Matter. There was a silent oppression.

In some ways, in the oppressed, you put up with it because you don’t want to be the nail that gets the hammer. I have a very good friend. She’s the godmother of my children. She is an 86-year-old Black woman. She likes to tell the story of how she grew up in Georgia and when she was very young because she would talk back to the KKK. Her mother sent her to California to live because she didn’t want to see her daughter hanging from a tree one day.

That’s a very extreme example. In our industry now, we talk about being in this industry that is about sustainability, social impact, and justice. The fact is there are a lot of unethical things that are happening inside it. There are people that are unable to speak out about what they’ve experienced because they’re going to get dinged, get criticized, lose their funding, and this, that, or the other thing. Money is always at play in this. It’s important. I’ve had this very unique opportunity over the to talk to dozens of founders who’ve come to me with their stories. They cannot publicly share their stories.

Care More Be Better | Miyoko Schinner | Real Impact
Real Impact: There is a lot to talk about sustainability and social impact, but there are still many unethical things happening inside it. People are afraid to speak up because of the fear of being criticized.

You’re holding space for them, but you also lived that reality.

I want to be the voice for others. Someone has to speak up and say, “This is what’s going on behind the scenes.” You may think this industry is hunky-dory, everybody’s getting along and we’re all about true impact, but the reality is different. Someone needs to say it. I know I’ve made enemies, but at the same time, so many people have come to me and said, “Thank you for saying that because I couldn’t say it.”

We feel like we have what is essentially a gag order against us without having been given a gag order. If you are a woman-led business in an industry and you seek capital at some point. I’m not even saying that’s today. You just know that you might have to seek it at some point. You’re already going into a world where less than 2% of the funding that comes from venture capital goes to female-founded or female-led companies where when it does come your way, the strings that are attached to that are up not as favorable as they might be to a male-led business.

It’s almost like assumptions are made about what can be negotiated against you in that situation again because 98% of the funds go to other businesses. We saw this start to change a little bit before the COVID pandemic hit. It was going as high as 4% for one year. Now it’s swung right back, and it’s less than 2% again.

If you’re a woman of color, the odds are even worse against you. I’m going to throw in the activist a bit if you’re an activist. In other words, if you care about having an impact, and that’s what your business is about. That all sounds sexy initially until you’ve got to just concentrate on the numbers.

Activism

They see my ability in a way too, because you’re so committed to one specific, whether it’s climate or it could be something specific within an industry like, “I am never going to use vitamin A sourced from palm,” as for example. They also want to talk about what’s happening to the orangutan and why it’s so critical that we not do anything specifically with palms. It could be one example, but you also might use a little nut butter in something. I wonder if it ever gets to the point where it’s quite that extreme where you are essentially singled out or dismissed because you take a path so seriously when it comes to that activism.

They can. I can tell you that VCs will often ask you to moderate your time or moderate the language because they say, “We have to appeal to a wider audience. You can’t be an activist out there. You can’t be at a thumber.” You have to talk to a wider audience and talk about the health benefits and the things that are safe. When you get into the activist realm and talk about things that matter because we don’t have a whole lot of time left on this planet to do something about it. That might, in their mind, impact sales.

I think they’re wrong because the audience is very different from the audience many years ago. People are waking up. People are looking for leadership and for people with opinions that speak the truth, and resonates with an audience. People will buy a product just because they believe in the mission that is relentlessly spoken about by a company. I can’t say I 100% agree with Patagonia, but Patagonia doesn’t sit around trying to sell their jackets. They talk about purpose and their idea of what their mission is. It may not be my mission, but the point is it appeals to a lot of people. They’re not toning it down.

If anything, they’ve leaned in. That’s a reality.

They certainly have and that’s what consumers are looking for. They’re not looking for the middle of the road because everyone’s middle of the road. If you’re middle of the road, you’re not distinguishing yourself from anybody else. You’re in the pack, doing it for the money, and people can smell that. You’re not any different. You’re not a leader. You’re just middle of the pack and who wants that?

[bctt tweet=”If you are in the middle of the road, you are not distinguishing yourself from anybody else. You are just in the pack and doing your work for the money.” via=”no”]

Do you think it’s fear that’s holding us back?

Fear is holding people back. I can see that I get dozens of messages every single week whenever I speak out on a topic about the industry. I am inundated with people saying, “Thank you for speaking up. This is what I’ve been thinking about, but I can’t speak about it.”

You feel hamstrung.

We have to create an environment where people are comfortable to discuss it. I’ve always been an activist fighting against animal agriculture. I had also begun to speak up even before everything happened with me professionally against what I call the alt-protein food tech space because there are issues around what we’re saying is truly going to have an impact but much more so now. I’m not popular. I don’t think a VC is going to give me a bunch of money anymore. That’s okay. If I start my next venture, I’m not going to ask them for money anyway.

Taking Accountability

I was thinking about this from the food perspective because I have been an animal lover my whole life, but I’m also been an omnivore my whole life until recently. This is part of the change that you helped to initiate. It’s something that has been coming for a long time. I’ve connected with so many people over the course of my experience in the natural products industry. I started out selling fish oil and putting Nordic Naturals on the map.

It was an experience of often talking to vegetarians about how they needed more Omega-3 and how it was more important for them in some ways than people who weren’t vegetarians because they weren’t getting enough. It was hard to get it from flax and from here or there, but now algae is the solution.

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve been working in the algae space and helping to, in a way, disrupt some of my earlier success in fish oil because part of what led me to leave Nordic Naturals after being there and leading sales, marketing, and education. I’m second in command. It was a whirlwind tour. It was the fact that I stopped believing our sustainability message. That was not going to be popular.

That’s not popular within the company to say, “Raise a question,” and be like, “I know we’re saying that the fish that are sourced off the coast of Peru is all Friends of the Sea certified and it’s sustainable.” What about the 15,000 dolphins a year that are illegally killed there? They’re poached. If that’s happening, then what else is happening that’s beyond our control? You have that seed of doubt.

I love what you’re saying. In other words, you are evolving as a human being.

To take accountability for my role in an industry’s success, and say, “I’m not going to do this anymore.”

That is the question for everybody is, as long as you have something to sell. Your vision of reality and truth will be compromised. When you no longer have anything to sell, then you can focus on what is happening. We’re all selling something because we have to make a living in the economic system that we’re in. We don’t have a water system. It’s not like the government’s doling out money to everybody.

Whether you have a job where you’re selling your services or you’re selling a product, we’re all selling something but we have to become comfortable with what we’re selling. When you reach a point, let’s say you do have a company, and all of a sudden, you realize that the product that you have isn’t ethical, even though you thought it was.

What do you do? Do you keep on selling it? Do you rush to make it ethical? Do you shut down the company? Do you step on the public stage and say, “We realized that we’re not doing a good enough job. We need to retract our steps and reinvent how we’re doing things,” or do you say, “We’re going to shut down because this isn’t right?” Anytime you’re selling anything, it’s difficult to understand what the truth is. If you do understand the truth, you might have to compromise your actual ability to sell something. What should you do? It’s a conundrum.

In my case, I’ve always been an environmentalist. I’m a scuba diver. I love our oceans. I care about the health of them. It was not only that dolphin issue because it’s never one thing. When you come to an awakening in any way, it’s often the culmination of so many different events. The moment I’d reached that decision, it still took me a year to leave the company because I’d become so ingrained. I felt so much responsibility for it and I was so integrated. It was my baby.

Your human being and it’s more than that because we all need to feel like we belong. There is a culture. We used to live in tribes or in villages. You’re part of a community and we’re not anymore. When you have a job like yours, that is who you are. That is your culture. That is your community. Your people. To walk off because you had an epiphany is not something that is easy to do.

Miyoko’s Creamery

No, it’s not. You’ve gone through something quite similar and at an even more focused level because you built Miyoko’s Creamery. It’s Miyoko’s. It’s your name. Can you talk to me for a moment about that experience? What is it when you think about everything that you were in building? Perhaps, how did that perspective change from when you were in it to where you are now?

I always try to put the mission out as the primary thing. I was never afraid to speak out about what we were doing, but my blinders were that I was only thinking about animals. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. There are other stakeholders in the food system that I had not considered because I’ve been vegan for so long. I’ve been an animal rights activist for so long. I was in that community and that is all I ever thought about.

It was my departure from Miyoko’s that gave me the bandwidth to start reading other books like Bandana Shiva’s books and reading more about what was the impact of the Green Revolution. A lot of people are anti-GMO because it’s bad for the soil and for human health. There are a lot of vegans who say, “I don’t care if it’s GMO as long as it saves animals.” Nobody or very few people understand the political and economical impacts of GMOs on communities around the world.

The fact that we have destroyed farming societies, ways of life, and food sovereignty all over the world because they or Monsanto own patents to seeds and control what is grown. The green revolution helped catapult the success of the ten biggest food corporations in the world that rely on commodity products, for example. The fact that most farmers are simply growing commodity products that feed into this corporatized globalized food system to make packaged products of which it turns out the average American consumes 50% on a daily basis.

Fifty percent of their diet is ultra-processed food that comes from one of these corporations. When you think about all of that, GMO goes way beyond the impact on soil and on human health. It impacts whether or not people in another part of the world eat or not, and whether or not their livelihoods have been destroyed, which they have.

[bctt tweet=”GMO goes way beyond the impact on soil and human health. It impacts whether or not people in another part of the world would eat or not. ” via=”no”]

That is not something that I had room bandwidth to think about when I was running a company because I was entirely focused on animals. What I began to realize is that if we’re going to reinvent the future of food, we have to do it in a way that considers the benefit of all stakeholders. That means, animals. It also means people and not just human health, but economic success, health, and the planet. We have to also consider all of these other aspects and ensure that whatever it is we are doing in this disruptive space of plant-based or vegan products or alt-need, we are not participating in the same destruction of food sovereignty, economic systems, and soil as animal agriculture.

When I began to think about a lot of this, it became pretty apparent to me that we’re not as innocent, as pure, and as truly impactful as we like to think we are. Many of the things that we do in this so-called alt-need food tech industry are basically repeating the footsteps of animal agriculture or these big conglomerates in the sense that we are going to be controlling the scenario.

We are using GMO crops that are destroying livelihoods all over the world, but at the same time, we are controlling the narrative on who owns the rights to food. If one of our proteins becomes the primary protein in the world, then it’s owned by a corporation. It’s not something that people can make on their own, their communities. It became to me apparent that we need to think about this in a much bigger and more holistic way if we do care like we say we do.

You’ve got me reflecting on an event I hosted. I was at Bifrost, which is an interesting event that brings people from the Nordic countries to the United States and leads this summit where different innovative brands and companies come together to seek collaboration investment, and partnership with US-based and Silicon Valley-based like San Francisco pioneers in other industries, and also VCs.

I hosted a panel specifically on the future of food. On one side was featuring VAXA Technologies and the work that they’re doing in algae to create sustainable solutions that are non-GMO that use less resources to grow that do great things. I’m involved in a project with them to commercialize those products for human nutrition.

Another company that is doing very interesting things, but GMO in the space of barley. What they’re doing is genetically modifying barley constituents to accelerate the cultured meat space, so alternative future of food. Now, from a theoretical perspective, I don’t like GMOs. I try to eat whole food and organic and don’t see that. In most cases, we’ve had a long enough view of the impact of what a GMO does to make wise choices.

We do things like create GMO corn, bring it to market and kill off lots of butterflies, and create huge problems for farmers that are trying to do things right because of cross-pollination and everything else that occurs in the world of nature. When we try to manipulate things too much, we often make big mistakes. Those big mistakes can even be accelerated because they’re profitable. Suddenly, that profitable enterprise of every meat that gets eaten is essentially fed corn and soy.

I didn’t realize they were feeding corn and soy to farmed fish, as for example. I stopped eating farmed fish then when I stopped eating farmed fish because I didn’t want concentrated soy and corn in my life as a meat product. I decided to stop eating wild fish because I said, “If I’m part of the problem, I’m part of the problem,” which is all my connection to fish oil and saying, “I’m going to lean more into algae. I’ll take more of my omega-3s to make sure I keep my levels up.”

Commoditizing Food

Successfully doing that, then I’m interviewing people like you. I interviewed AJ Albrecht who was leading Mercy for Animals. I started doing research into how our farming conditions are set up for chickens, cows, and pigs. I had to stop. I just had to. I understand fully wanting to make this focus all about the animals and I also get that this is so complicated. The more I learn, the more I realize I didn’t know.

It’s very complicated.

How we’ve organized food. We’ve made food into a commercial enterprise, which is essentially what we’ve done.

We’ve commodified food in a way that has created uneven distribution, access, and economic opportunities. Most of that has happened for years. This is a very unique time in history. One of the scary things is that even in the United States, we’ve lost food sovereignty. Small farmers are shutting down. There is a concern that there won’t be enough farmers to take over because farmers are aging out. They’re dying out.

There’s been a serious decline in the number of small farms in the United States that do feed their communities. Small farms typically grow crops that people eat. That sounds crazy, but the large farms are growing the soy and the corn that are going to feed animals as well as biofuels or to sell to the Nestle’s and the Unilever’s of the world. They’re going into packaged products and some vegan products. Some all proteins.

The fact that we had this rapid decline in small farmers is a huge concern because the more we lose small farmers, the more we’re going to lose access to food in our communities. We’ve had a lot of electrical outages here, but let’s say the power grid went down all over the world or all over the country. In many parts of the country, people wouldn’t be able to eat at all. Once the store shelves are empty, there’d be nothing left if there’s no electricity because there are no small farms anymore. The distribution system completely collapses.

These are some of the potential threats in the future as the world gets crazier, but we need to be able to rely on our communities. We need smaller producers that are making small batches of food to feed their communities. This is what the world used to be like. We need to get back to eating a wider variety of crops. We need more biodiversity. All of that has been wiped out.

This is the reason I have always said it’s best to your shopping locally where possible. One of the criticisms I’ve often heard is that “It’s more expensive to do it that way.” I find that that’s not the case. I participate in a local CSA. That means that I’m getting a shipment of fresh produce that’s grown in the organic farms nearby me and delivered to my doorstep once every couple of weeks. I use that primarily, but then I have to do some spot shopping between. I get the core elements that I need.

I also want to dispel this belief for people that it has to be more expensive. I’ll give you a for instance. I went to Aurelius’s, which is the closest market to me and I did some spot shopping. I walked out with three very full reusable bags full of groceries and as I was preparing to leave, she stopped me and said, “That was only $130.” I said, “I mostly got produce and I got a couple of other odds and ends.”

She’s like, “Every single person I’ve rung up has been over $200.” I looked at what I got in my car. There are two things that were different from probably most of the people shopping. There weren’t a lot of packaged foods. There was no meat and no wine and beer. I don’t think I could have got out the door with that also in there. We do make choices when we go to the store and the things that we buy.

Even though I shop fully for organic with my produce, I’m going to Aurelis. I like to go to the local natural stores too like the Wild Roots or Staff of Life in my neck of the woods but I don’t always have them on my circuit, so do spot-shopping where I can. You can do so affordably. Even now, I’m starting to buy grains from local growers up in your neck of the woods in Marin County, where they’re growing and milling organic grains and beans.

I can buy stuff that’s originating in Northern California within a hundred miles of my door instead of something that was shipped from South America or from Asia. We can be part of this solution but we have to support these local projects of these local farmers that are working to do things differently and better.

I agree with you, those of us that can afford to do so. It might cost a little bit more, but if you take out all the package goods and the meat that you were talking about. The cost of eating is not very high at all. If you’re buying whole grains from the bulk bin, especially, then from local farmers markets. You can eat pretty cheaply.

Care More Be Better | Miyoko Schinner | Real Impact
Real Impact: If you take out all the package goods, the cost of eating is not that very high at all. If you are buying whole grains from local farmer’s markets, you can eat pretty cheaply.

I don’t go to the store very often. I do have a big garden. I can pretty much eat out of there then I can buy beans and rice to supplement it. I can sometimes go weeks without going to the store. I wasn’t always like that. I used to shop a lot more. When I did, when my kids were growing up, I bought a lot more packaged goods.

Tattoo

I have two young boys, so it’s sometimes difficult on that front as well. Getting them to convert taco Tuesdays to tofu taco Tuesdays is something I’m presently working on, too. I’m finding it fun to get into the kitchen in a new way with them. I have to ask you, I understand you have a tattoo about your veganism. Can you share a story about that?

I’ve got two layers of sweaters on, so it’d be hard for me to show you. It’s phenomenally vegan. I got it when I turned 60. It was my very first tattoo. I found a local tattoo artist who was vegan and I did it on Facebook live. It was pretty fun. There were something like 30,000 people watching me get a tattoo. It was funny.

I got my first and only tattoo at 42 as a gift to myself. I imagine it was a gift to yourself to do that.

It was and initially, I felt a little odd, like, “I can’t show this. What do I do?” I tried to cover it up for a while then summertime came around. I had to take off my sweater. It’s been a conversation starter. People come up to me in the streets of New York and they say, “How long have you been vegan?”

How long have you been vegan?

I have been vegan in the mid-1980s. It’s been a long time. I am going to Japan in a couple of weeks to see my son and his family. I will have to hide my tattoo because you’re not supposed to have tattoos in Japan unless you’re a Yakuza or a Japanese mafia.

Upcoming Book And Vegan Village

I wondered if you were willing to take a snapshot of what your trajectory has been and where you see your future headed now. When you were at Expo West, you mentioned that you were looking at doing something a little different in the future. You were open to the idea of creating more of a lifestyle brand or helping people to create a thousand little micro creameries as opposed to one big creamery and helping people realize their dreams. I’m curious to see where you see yourself now.

I am now immersed in writing this book, The Vegan Creamery. The very first sentence in my introduction is exactly what you just said. I hope this is the book that launches a thousand vegan creameries. I do believe that if we have a product that we think or a solution that we think can help save the world. Why would we want to own the IP and reserve it for ourselves? Why would we not want to make it available to everyone so that more people can create that solution to save the world?

It’s like the pharmaceutical company. If you’ve got a drug that is life-changing or life-saving, pharmaceutical companies aren’t making it free. They’re going to profit on it as much as possible. The food industry is going down that same path. While they’re saying, “Our product is going to make a huge impact. It’s going to get millions of people off of meat,” but we’re going to own the IP so that we can control the scenario.

I don’t agree with that. I feel like if we’re trying to make an impact and we think we have a solution, then we should be sharing it. I’ve been working on this book. I have all these, honestly, amazing Jesus that I’ve been working on using a new technology. I hate to say it, but I found new methods for making curds out of different plant milks and making cheese.

I’m going to be disseminating that information so that it will inspire more people to make vegan cheese and maybe lots of companies instead of just one big company. That’s one thing but the other thing has to do with the lifestyle component that I was talking about. It’s taking a long time, but I’m just going to throw it out there. We are in the midst of trying to create the world’s first vegan village by buying an entire village in Italy.

Not just an international intentional community of vegans, but having vegan stores and restaurants and becoming an aspirational place where people will want to come from all over the world to see it can be done. Maybe it can even be a reality show as we create this place. I truly believe that one of the problems we have in the world in the United States is a loneliness epidemic. The surgeon general said it is an epidemic. Half the people in the country are lonely because we are now more isolated than ever with our digital platforms. We need to figure out ways to reignite a sense of community and togetherness.

[bctt tweet=”We are more isolated than ever because of digital platforms. We need to figure out ways to reignite a sense of community and togetherness.” via=”no”]

We have to recreate tribes. We are going to try to create the world’s first vegan village. We’ve chosen Italy as that place. They’ve got lots of abandoned villages that are looking for residents. We think this is a great opportunity to do it in a country that also honors tradition and a traditional way of eating. There is meat in the Italian diet, but at the same time, they have a long history of something called Cucina Povera, which is peasant food and was predominantly plant-based.

They are a culture of food.

They’re not a culture of packaged food or processed food. They’re a culture of real food. Can we do a vegan version of that that is based on their long tradition of cucina povera and do it in a town that celebrates their gastronomic culture, but brings it into the future in a way that’s more compassionate and sustainable?

I love that. I got the full-body chills happening over here because it’s such a beautiful idea. The reality of doing it somewhere like Italy where the climate is near perfect a lot of the year, where it’s so deep to end tradition. I can imagine some incredible vegan dishes coming out of this. I’ll give a for instance, when I traveled into the Cinque Terre arena and I hiked the trail. I did this all by myself, which I would never recommend.

It’s too romantic of a place. People should always go with at least one person so that you can get a two-top when it’s time to dine. The use of potatoes in place of noodles in a way. I had what I would call a typical pasta dish, but with potatoes, red sauce, olives, and other vegetables all thrown together. It was divine. It was nothing I would ever find in an Italian restaurant here.

They’re simple ingredients. American Italian food is not exactly what you have in Italy. Every region in Italy has very different food. There’s no such thing as “Italian food” unless you’re talking about pasta pomodoro. That’s about it.

Abandoning Fear

You find that as a side dish, but there are all sorts of explorations of the available food. I love that culture so much. I’m part Italian. I’m also married to an Italian-American. My father’s half Sicilian and half French. I have some exposure to that side of the world. Now, we spoke a little bit for a moment about abandoning fear and leaning into these things. I see you as being, this is your power of influence now of abandoning fear and leaning into the future. The future that you truly envision. It seems like you know you can create it. I want to for a moment and respect that and hear from you how you got to this knowing because all of us want to be on that journey with you. We want to be in that knowing.

I don’t know that I know. Thank you for mentioning that to me, but you might have more confidence in me than I do. I’m a person of constant self-doubt and self-reflection. I’m wondering if what I’m thinking is right, whether what I’m thinking is wrong or if I should post something that I’m thinking about because what if it backfires and people hate me? They do, then I do it anyway.

I always have questions. I always wonder, “Does my writing make sense? What about this product that I’m trying to work on? What about this idea?” I’ve always had self-doubt. I live with fear. I do everything. I’m not like this brazen person who’s like, “I don’t care. I’m so bold and fearless.” It’s not true. I do it despite the fear.

I do it because what else am I going to do? I don’t think I’ll ever be at a point where I’m completely 100% confident. I’ve given a lot of talks and I should be comfortable by this point in speaking in front of an audience, but I’m overwhelmed with fear until the words start to leave my mouth like stepping onto that stage. It’s like that with everything. I’m just a human being trying to figure out my path in life.

What you’ve described for us is a trait of bravery because when you do something in spite of the fear that’s there. That’s truly what makes it a brave act. I also get that little bit of stage fright or the butterflies in the belly and have that same experience until I’m speaking. You feel clammed up a little bit or not sure of what you plan to say then you’re suddenly in it and something changes. I love that.

Favorite Cheese

Now, I’m curious if you have a specific favorite cheese that you would like to share with our audience. Is there a specific favorite cheese that you have that they could perhaps go out and either taste or try or learn from you? Whether it be on your YouTube channel or in your upcoming book. I’d love for you to share it.

Since this is visual, I’m going to just pull something out from behind me.

It looks like a blue cheese.

That’s exactly right. That is something that I’ve been working on and I’ve had quite a bit of success. It took me a number of tries.

Is it similar to a Roquefort?

It’s like a Roquefort. I call it Rancho Roquefort. That is something I’m excited about, but its trial and error. It takes about four weeks to make this for the mold to grow, but it’s made out of the milk of two different seeds. It forms these beautiful curds and the mold can grow in between the curds. This will be in the vegan creamery cookbook. You’ll know how to make it soon.

At the same time, I do have a YouTube episode on making halloumi. I call it Maloumi because it’s made out of mung beans. That’s a relatively simple recipe. I have to admit, I have never had halloumi because I went vegan when I was so young but people kept saying, “Can you make a vegan halloumi?” I read up on like what’s it like? What are the characteristics?

I made one and people have said they love it. Although, apparently, I forgot the most important thing because this was not in the articles that I read. You’re supposed to put a mint leaf inside the cheese for the mint flavor to infuse. That’s what someone from Cyprus said. That would be easy to do. I’m going to add that to my recipe, but the recipe for the cheese itself, and you can just put a mint leaf in it so it can infuse the flavor is available on my YouTube channel, the Vegan Good Life with Miyoko.

Veganism

I have to say, I appreciate all of the work that you are doing. I will say this again, go forward with bravery and be willing to speak with power against, in some cases. Some pretty big shots out there who are working to sell a story and gloss over the things that they might be doing behind the scenes. I think we need more of that in this culture. We need more space for that and people who are willing to use their platforms to do all of that.

I know you’ve spoken on LinkedIn to say things like, “I might not ever get investment capital again, but it’s important I talk about these things.” Somebody is and I feel like that couldn’t be more true. It’s an amazing thing. I believe you’re an asset to all women in business and beyond. I very much look forward to connecting with you again in person. I’m planning to buy my ticket to your Compasión fundraiser.

Thank you. I look forward to seeing you there.

I’m hoping that this will be published that week and get to follow up with some personal stories about that event as well. I’m very excited for the work that you’re doing, the animals that you work to save, and for inspiring me on a journey to become a vegetarian who is leading more every day toward veganism.

Congratulations and thank you for doing that.

It was hard at first, but then I was like, “I haven’t had dairy in a year.”

Good for you.

I haven’t had fish in a few months, then I don’t feel like eating the beef and the pork anymore. The last thing is I still get some eggs and the cooked cookies that I make for my kids.

That’s easy to substitute. At some point, when you’re on this journey or going down this path, foods like beef and chicken stop looking like food to you. They will. You just won’t even look at it and desire it because it’ll be like, “Why would I eat that? I wouldn’t eat my computer. My computer is not food and neither is this. That’s an animal.”

Care More Be Better | Miyoko Schinner | Real Impact
Real Impact: When you are on this journey of veganism, beef and chicken will eventually stop looking like food to you.

In being in the natural space, I’ve been following Dr. Michael Greger for some time. I’ve also been looking closely at Dr. William Li’s work and all of these individuals who are at the forefront of health and science-based nutrition are saying the same thing. They are saying, “Plant first. If you’re going to continue with animal products, consider it a condiment. Don’t eat food out of a box unless you know what the ingredients are and let’s get you back in the kitchen.” That’s what makes sense.

When you hear people like Jonathan Safran Foer, who is both a novelist, an environmentalist, and also a vegan activist. He says, “No meat before dinner. No animal products before dinner. If everybody did that, We’d be in a better space. We know it would be better for our climate.” While my path hasn’t been purely starting from an animal ethics space and it hasn’t been purely from an ecological space. It’s been this becoming. Maybe that’s a better word than awakening because it’s something that’s happening in stages. I will say, my skin’s a lot clearer since giving up dairy. I never realized the connection. I had acne and I had it through adulthood. I gave up dairy and acne’s gone.

What you said about instead of awakening, it’s becoming. We are all becoming. We’re human beings. We’re always becoming something and we’re evolving. We’re all on a journey. None of us on any path that we’re on, are ever there in terms of perfection, even as a vegan. We’re all becoming and that was beautifully put.

[bctt tweet=”Instead of awakening, human beings are becoming. We are always becoming something in this journey of life.” via=”no”]

Thank you so much for joining me. I can’t wait to see you again. I can report back to you about the craziness of Expo West.

Have fun. That’s all I can say. Thank you for having me on.

Thank you so much.

Closing Words

To find out more about me, Miyoko, and stay abreast of her incredible journey and her important work, I encourage you to visit her Instagram and Facebook pages @MiyokoSchinner and also her YouTube channel, The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko. I personally find them to be incredible resources, especially on my own path to veganhood.

As always, I will be sure to include links to everywhere that you can connect with her and find her cookbooks. If you want to shop for them, in fact, I’ll put them in my Amazon shop. You can find these resources, links, and so much more when you visit CareMoreBeBetter.com. Visit the site and join us on this journey to build a better and brighter future.

Thank you, readers and watchers, now and always for being a part of this show and this community because together, we can do so much more. We can care more, be better, and even shift our consumption habits. Vote with our dollars and build a more equitable world that respects powerful women like Miyoko and kicks the limiting conventions of the past right in the teeth. You can be that rebel, perhaps capture a little bit of that Miyoko spirit. Thank you.

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